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Loyal viewers lined the streets to snag a ticket and there were surprise celebrity dial-ins Thursday evening as Hell’s Kitchen threw a farewell party for host Trevor Noah’s last taping of The Daily Show. The comedian stunned viewers in September when he announced he was stepping down, and he said his goodbyes at the 11th Avenue studio last night.
Longtime fans convened outside the nightly political comedy program’s studio, eager to catch the South African stand-up comedian’s last evening at the Daily Show host desk.
“I didn’t expect to be here today,” said Martha, who was in town from California. “I was actually waitlisted for months, and then while on my flight here, I got an email saying: ‘You’re off the waitlist!’, I didn’t even look at who was going to be on the show, I just wanted to see Trevor because he’s a phenomenal person.”
Frequent-flyer Sabrina added, “I’ve been watching the show since 2018, and this isn’t my first time coming to a taping – I really wanted to see his last show.”
Inside the studio, the mood was equally jubilant and the studio audience cheered mightily for Noah’s entrance. “This is the final episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” said the host. “And it’s not just that, it’s also a celebration — because when I started this show, I had three clear goals: I want to make sure Hillary gets elected. I’m going to make sure that I prevent a global pandemic from starting and I’m going become best friends with Kanye West. So, time to move on!” he joked.
Current correspondents were joined by alums like Jordan Klepper, who conducted man-on-the-street interviews about Noah’s departure in “the only place more intense than a MAGA rally — Midtown Manhattan during the holidays.” New Yorkers gave Klepper appropriately snappy responses like “everything ends sometimes” and “Trevor, you’re the f**** man.”
In addition to interviewing fellow comedian and writer Neil Brennan (who presented Noah with a bouquet and a lengthy brochure on signing up for health insurance), a bevy of boldfaced names Zoomed in to wish Noah well, including Oprah, Issa Rae, Vice President Kamala Harris, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Nick Offerman and Tracee Ellis Ross, all of whom acknowledged that Noah had seen the nation through some really bad times.
It was a bittersweet moment to commemorate The Daily Show’s youngest and first ever host of color, who took the reins from long-running emcee John Stewart in 2015. Noah stewarded the show through everything from the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the host continued to pay his furloughed staff while broadcasting the rebranded Daily Social Distancing Show from his Hell’s Kitchen apartment.
Noah announced his surprise departure live on air in September, expressing gratitude for the seven-year experience and a desire to return to tour life. His Off the Record tour kicks off in January 2023 and he is also selling his 3,600 square-foot three-bedroom three-bathroom penthouse in the historic Stella Tower on W50th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, which he bought in 2017.
The program has yet to officially announce a successor. Instead, a rotating roster of notable comedians are set to fill Noah’s seat, including Wanda Sykes, Chelsea Handler, John Leguizamo, Kal Penn, Marlon Wayans, as well as current Daily Show contributors Roy Wood Jr, Dulcé Sloan and alum Hasan Minaj. Opening the rotation is SNL alum Leslie Jones, whose first taping will be January 17.
The guest host model is likely to continue until at least fall of 2023, when Comedy Central execs told Vulture they’d plan to relaunch with a new host (or hosts) at the helm. One of the guest hosts might even become the permanent star. Chris McCarthy, CEO of Paramount Media Network told Vulture: “We’re going to use the back half of the broadcast year — call it from now until June — to really experiment and try different things. We absolutely don’t feel a need to rush into this decision.”
But for one final night, The Daily Show was all about Trevor Noah and his many fans. Martha, who received her golden ticket just in time to see Noah, told W42ST that in the midst of the excitement over getting off the waitlist, she hadn’t realized that she would be at his very last show: “I feel extremely lucky now.”
And as Noah reflected on his time behind the Daily Show desk, he thanked his family, his team and especially Black women, whom he credited as “the reason I am here”. He also shared a few lessons he had taken from The Daily Show. “I would never pretend to understand America,” said Noah, “but there were three main lessons that I’ve learned in my time — every time you think of an issue, don’t think of it through the lens of Republican and Democrat, forget that for a moment. Think about it as a human being, and then figure out which person in power is actually trying to do what you think needs to be done about that issue. The second lesson I learned is never forget that context matters. I feel like we live in an age of limitless information right now, but we never seem to acknowledge that there’s a shortage of context. The final lesson I learned at the show, and I learned it not at the show, but because of the show and the news I was covering, is please — don’t forget that the world is a friendlier place than the internet and the news will make you think.”